Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Fucking Christmas..."

I never thought those words would so easily come out of me.

But they did. They do.

I don't use the "C" word anymore really. I say, "the holidays" or "Xmas" or something else. Even the word can mean too much.

Like so many people out there, the holidays are really hard. Dickens got it right that there are ghosts everywhere but not necessarily of a life wasted but of those who shadows linger. Presents that will forever be left wrapped under the tree. Meals together with an empty seat at the end of the table. And forever the damned music, in every store, walking mall and on the radio, when you can hear his voice singing along. The big family gatherings, everyone laughing and smiling but I can't stop staring at the spot on the carpet where he would be sitting. Then they notice me noticing... 

Sometimes, it's nice. Sometimes I will see a tree all decorated and I smile cause he loved this time so much and took such care to make it special. So I'll go and get hot cocoa and walk under the strung up lights. But sometimes it's all too much and I just want to crawl into bed. Some things are helpful and some are hurtful. And sometimes, those that are helpful can still hurt. There is no “good column/bad column” set in stone. These emotions are complicated and forever shifting. This can make the holidays a mine field. For my family, the first five years we just avoided the field completely. We took ourselves out of state or out of county vacations. It was great. I'd still rather do that but you can't always get what you want.

I'll smell burning wood and cider on the air and I still reach for my phone, just for a second, to call him and say, "Remember that place we lived when we were little and how the air smelled and we would make blanket forts and steal snack cakes to "roast" by the fire?" But there's no one to call. No one remembers that smell and those blanket forts and twinkie fires but me. The only other witness to our childhood antics and holiday cheer is far away now and there's just me.

I am finding new ways to celebrate every year. I try to be a bit more festive for the sake of TMS, who loves this time of year. We actually got a tree last year, my first since my brother died 7 years ago. I make cider and wrap presents. He even had a holiday party last year with his friends, which went very well. 

But this doesn't mean I'm "better" or "over" it. It means I had it easy this time. Good days, bad days. And I don't know how things will go this time. I may be unable to do anything. No tree, no decorating, no parties. Jingle bells make me run and hide. The sound of snow makes me cry. Or maybe I'll be ok. I just don't know. And believe it or not, that's normal.

It's probably selfish. I take alone time more than I probably should. I skip the trip to Aunt Judi's and all the cousins. I go to bed early. I don't watch live TV or listen to the radio and avoid those who do. Self preservation. And someone usually gets mad because I'm being a Grinch.

Something that people will never get, holiday season or not: How you grieve is not necessarily how I grieve. There is no limit or timetable for “getting over it” or “moving on”. It’s always fluctuating. One creates a new life out of their experience of loss. So go fuck yourself if you require me to feel a certain way at a certain time, especially around Xmas.

Just don't tell me how to be. Because unless you know, you have no idea.